Brian Kavanagh, the representative for the 26th district in the New York State Senate, hosted a town hall on the evening of Thursday, February 12. Via Zoom, constituents in North Brooklyn asked questions and raised concerns about the eviction moratorium, Marsha P. Johnson State Park, and qualified immunity, among other topics. 

At the start of the town hall, Senator Kavanagh estimated that between 800,000 and 1.2 million tenants are behind in rent in the state of New York. In December 2020, the New York Senate passed an eviction and foreclosure moratorium. “These are blanket moratoria and will be in place for a more weeks,” Kavanaugh said. If you are experiencing a hardship, the declaration form is available here and protects tenants from eviction through May 2021. 

Several landlords expressed concerns about their inability to evict tenants or demand overdue rent payments. “The the eviction moratorium is not a rent holiday,” Kavanagh said. “We have not done anything that diminishes people’s obligation to pay rent.” Additionally, the eviction moratorium does not prohibit court action “when somebody is acting in a way that violates their lease and endangers the health and safety of other occupants in the building,” he said. Kavanagh also spoke about his proposed Covid-19 Rental Assistant Program that would provide utility payment and rental assistance to households in New York.

North Brooklyn residents expressed concern about the redesign of the Marsha P. Johnson Park. “We were appalled by the design, but what was really disturbing was the fact that the committee award was cut out of the development process and the design process,” said Steve Chesler, a member of Brooklyn Community Board 1. Others mentioned concerns about the park design and the use of thermoplastic. Kavanagh said he is working on holding a public meeting with stakeholders to discuss what can be done. 

A rendering of the future look at Marsha P Johnson State Park Credit: New York State Parks

Neighbors asked if Senator Kavanagh will support bills, including Bill S1991, in the Senate to end qualified immunity for policing. He did not provide a straight answer. “The bills are kind of robust and complicated and we’re looking at it,” Kavanagh said. “I expect that I will be signing on to them, I am just reviewing them.” 

Other topics discussed included a new vaccination site at Medgar Evers College and the lack of promised development on the Bushwick Inlet Park. If you have additional questions or concerns, reach out to State Senator Kavanagh via email at kavanagh@nysenate.gov or 212-298-5565.

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